To-Be-Filed Thursday–Gerry’s House from Sentinels of New Orleans

One of my big online projects these days is culling down my Dropbox account, particularly two huge files called “To Be Sorted1” and “To Be Sorted2.” In other words, they’re my online junk drawers.

But however much I love Dropbox, and I do, once I am gainfully unemployed about 30 days from now (yikes!), I no longer want to pay $75 a month for a business account and unlimited storage. So I’ve been going through my virtual junk drawers. I’ll share a few things with you as I find them.

Like this double in New Orleans’ Lakeview community, which is a place I rented when I first moved to NOLA, before we bought our house uptown. I was moving there from San Diego and rented it sight-unseen; it turned out to be a great half-double. This serves as the model for Gerry St. Simon’s house in the Sentinels series.

So, what’s a double and a half-double? It’s New Orleans-ese for a duplex, and one side of a duplex. My roommate and I lived in the larger unit on the left as you face the house. At the time I lived there, it was painted a darker brown color rather than taupe, and I don’t think the doors were black. I wish I had another photo of it. Oh, wait. This:


So, yeah, my half-double on Bellaire Drive in Lakeview just happened to be two blocks from the main levee breach that flooded NOLA after Hurricane Katrina. This was taken about a month after the storm. Some interesting observations. When I lived there, there were one-story houses on each side. Both were completely underwater and later torn down. There’s such a thick layer of sand and mud left in front that you can’t even see the driveways in the bottom photo. I can’t really tell the door color in the bottom photo because the doors were washed away in the flood, but since the balcony windows were white, the doors might have been white also. In the top photo, you can see that the huge oak trees around and behind the house are no longer there (sitting in saltwater for a month doesn’t agree with most trees), and the backyard (which you can’t see in the bottom photo but is clear in the top) leads up to the rebuilt 17th Street Canal Levee wall. The one that failed.

So when I was writing ROYAL STREET and wanted a Katrina-flooded house for Gerry, this was the natural place for me to go because I knew the neighborhood, knew the layout of the house, and figured that since the house survived, the upper floor wasn’t flooded so Gerry could have survived up there. The waterline would have been about to the midpoint of the balconies on “my” side of the house.

So that’s my “discovery” in my “To Be Filed” folder this week! I’m glad the house survived. All hail to 6660 Bellaire Drive! (Maybe that ‘666’ should have been a warning!)


Is Blogging Dead? Long Live the Blog! Or Not…(And a #giveaway)

So, about the time of the election/holidays, I noticed blog traffic had dropped. I take my share of responsibility for that because I’ve found myself unsure what to blog about these days. So I’m turning to those of you who still drop by.

What do you want to read? I can’t imagine anything that’s always about me, me, me, me, me is going to bring people back day after day.

Do you like guest authors? (Knowing that the BIG authors don’t do blog posts as a rule, so this will mostly be what’s fondly known in the industry as a “midlister” or even a debut author.) Do you prefer guest posts or interviews?

Thinking about the blogs you read regularly, what is it about them that brings you back?

I’m pondering all this as I approach the end of my day job in about a month (pause for happy dancing). I will have more time to devote to this space, but only if I can do it in a meaningful way.

So weigh in on blogs. Has their time come and gone, or are there still blogs you read regularly? And just for playing along, you’ll be entered for a $10 gift card to the online bookseller of your choice.